On the eve of its World University Basketball Series title defense, the young guns of Ateneo de Manila University showed that they are ready, leading the Blue Eagles to a 70-69 victory over a select team from the Japan University Basketball Federation on Thursday at Yoyogi National Stadium in Tokyo.
Facing a tough University of Sydney squad in the knockout tournament on Friday, Tab Baldwin opted to sit Geo Chiu, Kai Ballungay, Chris Koon, and Gab Gomez in the contest while limiting the minutes of ace rookie Mason Amos.
The defending UAAP champions leaned on one-and-done big man Joseph Obasa, who had 17 points and 15 rebounds in the contest.
Big-time free throws from Obasa and a slam dunk by Josh Lazaro gave Ateneo a 70-64 lead.
However, their Jones Cup-bound opponents made a huge endgame rally, cutting the lead down to a solitary point with 16 ticks left.
Ateneo was able to escape death late to seal the win.
Rookies Shawn Tuano and Lebron Nieto also delivered, scoring 12 and 10 points, respectively.